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Thin Film Silicon Solar Cells

Comparison between crystalline and amorphous silicon


a-Si:H (and related materials) solar cells Transparent conducting Oxides (TCO) Multi-junction solar cells Solar modules and applications Thin film crystalline solar cells and heterojunctions

Photovoltaic Technologies

multi c-Si 45.2%

Others 0.1% CIS 0.5% Ribbon c-Si 2.2% CdTe 4.7% a-Si/ucSi 5.2% mono c-Si 42.2%

Comparison between the Photovoltaic Technologies

III-V

Si

Thin Films Dye Organic

Solar Cells : Comparison c-Si / a-Si:H

c-Si : intrinsic better conversion efficiency a-Si:H : potential cost reduction

Comparison c-Si / a-Si:H


c-Si diffusion length (m) electron mobility (cm2/V.s) conductivity (S/cm) doping efficiency pn junction 10 - 200 500 - 1000 10-4 - 104 1 asymetrical a-Si:H

a-Si:H solar cell cannot be


0.1 - 2 0.05 - 1 10-13 - 102 10-3 - 10-2 ohmic

based on p n junction !

The space-charge width W can be obtained from the Poisson equation with the diffusion length : L = (D)1/2 and the mobility : = eD/kT (D : diffusion coefficient).

Diffusion effects are negligible dans a-Si:H (weak mobility). Carrier collection takes place within the space-charge region : the increase of this region is required.

Comparison between crystalline and amorphous silicon a-Si:H (and related materials) solar cells Transparent conducting Oxides (TCO) Multi-junction solar cells Solar modules and applications Thin film crystalline solar cells and heterojunctions

a-Si:H Cell Structure


p-i-n junction :
Width of the depletion region : a-Si:H i W 1m

a-Si:H p,n W ~10-20 nm p et n regions are used to set-up the internal electric field but do not significantly contribute to the carrier collection (increase of defect densities in doping regions).

Technological issues : Absorption of high energy photons (penetration length : 12-20 nm) Band diagram of a p-i-n junction Red light absorption (thickness limited by the space-charge width : 0.5 - 1 m)

The Physics of a-Si:H Solar Cell

Space charge regions and internal electric field E(x), without applied external voltage.

Plasma Deposition (PECVD)


4
RF electrode
SiH4

a-Ge:H

a-SiGe:H a-Si:H

Log (cm-1) Log

PH3

2 1

(cm
1

Pumping
Substrate

alpha

B2H 6

Plasma

NH3

-1 0.8

Flexible process allowing the growth of various Si structures (amorphous, microcrystalline), Si doping and Si alloys : SiC, SiGe

1.2 1.4 1.6 Energy (eV)

-1

1.8

Band gap tuning (opposite behavior with SiC)

Optical properties of Si structures and alloys

Band gap variation between 1.0 and 2.5 eV, from gaseous mixture (SiH4 with CH4 or GeH4). Low y values are generally used because of defect density increase with alloying

The increase of the crystalline volume fraction in c-Si leads to optical properties close to c-Si.

Window layers of a-Si:H solar cells


Objective : the decrease of the blue light absorption in the p layer

SiC is generally used for p doped window layer in a-Si:H solar cells

Metastability in Si thin film solar cells

Advantage of partially crystallized Si thin films : significant reduction of mtastability effect (Staebler-Wronski)

a-Si:H solar cells


simple pin structure
ITO p Optimized performances (S a = 0.25 cm 2 ) Jsc = 14,36 mA/cm 2 V oc = 0.965 V FF = 0.672 Stabilized efficiency = 9.3% substrate

i a-Si:H n ZnO Ag

General Trends of Si Thin Film Cells


Same deposition process (PECVD) typical efficiency ~ 8 - 10 % whatever the silicon structure a-Si:H drawbacks : instability and weak deposition rate (0.1 0.2 nm/s) pm-Si : optical properties close of a-Si:H (Eg, Voc) advantage : high rate (~1 nm/s) induced by growth from crystallites nc-Si and c-Si : optical properties close of c-Si advantage : complementarity with the other materials possibility to combine within tandem structures

Comparison between crystalline and amorphous silicon a-Si:H (and related materials) solar cells Transparent conducting Oxides (TCO) Multi-junction solar cells Solar modules and applications Thin film crystalline solar cells and heterojunctions

Transparent Conducting Oxides (TCOs)


Electrode window layer Two simultaneous requirements : conducting (<10) and transparent to the sunlight Requirements fulfilled by large band gap thin film materials (>3eV) with degenerated n-type doping (Fermi level inside conduction band)
0,9 0,8 0,7

Interband absorption

Free carier absorption (intraband) and reflexion

J(mA/cm2)

0,6 0,5 0,4 0,3 0,2 0,1 0 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1100

5900K

Wavelength (nm)

conc. Al
TCO Active material Back reflector

Transmission de ZnO:Al

Other applications : Flat pannel displays Architectural glasses for thermal insulation

TCO technologies
Texturation TCO texturation favors light trapping in the cell can naturally appears during deposition (SnO2) or created after growth (ZnO) Typical materials
Technology Cell application Advantages / Drawbacks

Indium Tin Oxide (ITO)

HIT cells, a-Si:H (back reflector)

Performant Indium : expensive (limited resources) Non-textured Less expensive Textured during growth High temprature process

Tin Oxide (SnO2:F)

a-Si:H, CdTe

Deposition methods Sputtering Reactive sputtering (O2) MOCVD LPCVD

Zinc Oxide (ZnO:Al)

a/c-Si:H, CIGS

Less expensive Resistant against Hplasma Texturation in/ex-situ Complex process

Sputtering (and reactive sputtering)

Comparison between crystalline and amorphous silicon a-Si:H (and related materials) solar cells Transparent conducting Oxides (TCO) Multi-junction solar cells Solar modules and applications Thin film crystalline solar cells and heterojunctions

Multiple-junction Solar Cells


Possible tandem structure

The theoretical best efficiency of over 20% occurs with a combination of 1.8 eV in the top cell (a-Si:H) and 1.2 eV in the bottom.

Tandem can have two or three electrical terminals. The introduction of an internal TCO layer is incompatible with epitaxy

Thin film Multi-junctions

a-Si:H and c-Si/a-Si:H Cells


pin Structure
Contact Al N(a-Si:H)
SnO2
Spectral response [a.u.]
Micromorph a-Si:H

pin/pin Tandem

c-Si:H

I (a-Si:H) ~0.3 m

Back contacts

10 nm P(a-SiC:H)

400
c-Si:H
(Bottom cell)

600 800 Wavelength [nm]

1000

Glass substrate

15

1 cm2 Hybrid cell

a-Si:H

AM 1.5, 25 oC

Current (mA)

(Top cell)

10

(KANEKA double-light source simulator)

TCO Glass

Jsc: 14.4 mA/cm2

Voc: 1.41 V F.F. : 0.719 Eff: 14.5%

light

c-Si less sensitive to light-degradation effects

0.5

1.5

Voltage (V)

Comparison between crystalline and amorphous silicon a-Si:H (and related materials) solar cells Transparent conducting Oxides (TCO) Multi-junction solar cells Solar modules and applications Thin film crystalline solar cells and heterojunctions

Thin Film Solar Cells Based on a-Si:H


Schematic representation of light trapping in a-Si:H single junction and tandem cell ( micromorph ). Time deposition of the Si layers is a technological issue in practical applications An anti-reflection coating (n=1.2) can be added on top of the glass substrate.

Si Thin Film Modules

Typical cell interconnection systems and packaging (EVA : ethylene-vynil-acetate polymer foil).
Cells can be manufactured on large area substrates (6-8 m2) on 3 mm thick float glass. Series connection needed for pactical applications (Vused = 12 30 V). Laser scribing is used to subdivide TCO and Si layers into parallel stripes. The slight offset between scribes is required for serie connection. w : photo-inactive interconnection width.

Thin Film Module Performance

Stabilized efficiency of a-Si:H based PV modules manufactured by various companies

Si Thin Film Modules


Easy to make thin film solar modules A solar cell gives about 0.5 volt Many cells connected together make a solar module Thin film solar cells are interconnected during the fabrication of the thin layers - no handling of individual cells as in the conventional techniques Encapsulation needed to protect the solar cells Crystalline Si module Thin film module

Thin Film Modules on Flexible System


Silicon based thin film deposition possible on flexible substrates : steel or aluminium foils, polymers compatible with PECVD process (150 C)

Iowa Thin Film Technologies : roll-to-roll production of a-Si/a-Si tandem PV modules on polyimid substrates for consumer applications, capacity about 5 10 MWp, stabilised efficiencies are 4 5%.

Thin Film Modules : Building-Integrated PV

PV faade of a Bavarian Ministry (Munich)

Principle and appearance of semi transparent a-Si semitransparent modules (material removal by laser scribing)

a-Si:H cells for indoor applications

The energy gap of a-Si:H is higher, and thus best matched to the spectrum of the indoor light sources Due to the much lower indoor irradiance, light-induced degradation is a lesser issue Applications : calculator, wall mounted sensors, alarm clocks

Thin Film Module : Life cycle analysis

sdsd

1840 MJ/ module : a significant impact of Front-end line

Thin Film Module : Life cycle analysis


Front end impact

Comparison between crystalline and amorphous silicon a-Si:H (and related materials) solar cells Transparent conducting Oxides (TCO) Multi-junction solar cells Solar modules and applications Thin film crystalline solar cells and heterojunctions

Si Cells : Comparison Bulk crystalline / Thin Films

c-Si : thick material required to allow the full conversion of the solar spectrum (indirect band gap) PECVD Si thin films : cost reduction expected

Thin Films Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells (1)


Using the simple rule (bandedge)-1, the c-Si wafer thickness for sufficient absorption of the solar spectrum is > 700 m (without light management). Such a large thikness is not desirable for commercial production.

At a thickness of 300 m, the current density is within 5% of the saturation value 300 m is suitable for fabricating high-efficiency c-Si cells.

Calculation ot the maximum achievable current density (MACD) for a AR-coated c-Si solar cell as a function of the cell thickness (AM 1.5 incident spectrum)

Thin Films Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells (2)


Thinner wafers conserve material (cost reduction) and also offer a performance advantage by decreasing the bulk-carrier recombination within the solar cell.

However, as the cell thickness is reduced, the surface recombination becomes an inceasingly important component of the total recombination. Wafer thickness and surface recombination should be reduced simultaneously.

Calculation of the Voc variation of a c-Si front textued solar cell as a function of thickness for high and low surface-recombination velocities (front and back velocities assumed to be equal)

HIT Heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer


Device motivations : Tendancy of thin crystalline Silicon wafers begin to be incompatible with high temperature process (dopant diffusion, aluminium annealing): curvature creation Substitution of the dopant implantation by PECVD growth a-Si:H used for c-Si surface passivation HIT process Thin silicon wafer (100 m) Cleaning and etching for wafer texturation PECVD growth of intrinsic and dopped aSi:H Sputtering growth of ITO

passivated interfaces

ITO texturation from c-Si

HIT Heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer


intrinsic a-Si:H used for c-Si surface passivation : dangling bond passivation (surface recombination becomes crucial when the device thickness decreases) doped a-Si:H for diode creation (front end) and BSF (back contact) TCO : optimised optical performances

Structure of a HIT cell

Heterojunction (HIT) : band profiles


Front contact
Further advantage of the HIT structure : combines different band gap materials Ev favors hole collection Ec creates a potential barrier for electrons (crossed by tunnelling)

The vacuum level (that of a free electron at rest outside the solid) is the same for the two Si materials. The band discontinuity is due to the differences of the electron affinities (and doping) :

E c = B A

Heterojunction (HIT) : band profiles


Back contact (BSF)

Ev creates a potential barrier for holes (crossed by tunnelling) Ec favors BSF effect (electrons repelling)

HIT Heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer

Performances
World record (10 x 10cm) (SANYO) VOC=0.722V JSC=38.64mA/cm2 FF=78.8 = 22% www.sanyo.com

Commercial production

- SANYO (Japan) cells PV modules (205-230 W) - Year production 400-500 MW/y - Module efficiency : ~20% - Available in Europe since 2003